Thu Van Tran
From Green to Orange

From Green to Orange is a series of silver films immersed in a bath of dye and rust. While the perception of the subject is made difficult by the chemical reaction, vegetation becomes discernible at a closer look. Thu Van Tran interferes in the depths of a mystery, in the density of a hallucinated dream. The impression that this jungle is burning is underscored by the title that refers to the color names of defoliants dropped in Vietnam by the US military during the war. “Dust trail” is the name chosen by the US military to designate the toxic dependence operation conducted from 1961 in South Vietnam. The most used defoliants were Agent Orange, a stable, non-soluble product that contaminates the interior for a long time. The chemical has insinuated itself into the food chain and the populations genetics. The leaves visible in the photograph are those of the rubber tree that was brought from Amazonia by a French sailor. It quickly became a natural wealth of Vietnam but led to the occupation of a very large part of the fertile land by French settlers. This work crystallizes physically and symbolically different references that are war, colonialism, and economic exchanges, but also the mysterious and romantic aspect of the jungle conveyed in Western culture.

Currently based in Paris, Thu Van Tran, whose work is been characterized by literature, architecture and history, has lived a paradox of the dismantlement of the French colonial empire. Her grandfather was Algerian and was enrolled in the colonial wars; he met her grandmother, who was French, in Indo-China. She was born between two cultures, languages and national identities. Primarily a sculptor, the artist realizes her works in monumental scales (a boat perched on top of a postmodern building by Ricardo Bofill), but employs precarious materials: wood, paper and wax. In some works, the raw material is fiction with postcolonial-inspired narratives. Her work is linked to the intertwined history of her home country and her host country, France, and the colonial relationship between these two places.